Sometimes in my life, I come across common “themes” in the various, unconnected things I see in a small timeframe. These occasionally become my topics. The subject this time circled around being good or nice to others. I read a Christmas blog that attacked the “fakeness” of the Christmas spirit. Then I saw a little paragraph about an anime that explores the concept of being nice as a game. Lastly, I watched a movie called The Ultimate Gift in which one of the characters initially refuses help.
The “fakeness” the blogger pointed to was how gift giving is practically obligatory and then how the “spirit” disappears on December 26th. So what good is Christmas if people are good for only one day of the year? This is not a new idea. The concept is applied when critiquing families who are nice at church but then are highly dysfunctional at home. If people can be nice for a small amount of time, can’t they be that all the time?
What if being nice was a game? What if people got rewarded somehow for doing good deeds? Perhaps “missions” can be sent to people’s smartphones. That would encourage people to perform more good deeds, right? Unfortunately, yes and no. The problem stems back to motivation. The reward system is useful for training, but it doesn’t make anyone good per se. It places more emphasis on the rewards and “practicality” of being nice than being nice. So while there may be more good deeds, there could also be people causing bad situations in order to earn “missions.”
The other problem, and perhaps the essential problem, of the idea of making “niceness” into a game is it objectifies everyone else. It strips people of their dignity and humanity. This is why people can be insulted by someone doing a “good deed.” They are not being helped because they are human or it is the right thing to do, but because they are mere pawns for someone’s gain.
Now realize that some deeds require instant reaction. If the system worked as I said, if everyone checked to see how much they would get rewarded and then weighed in the risks, it would be too late. Or on the flip side, maybe there would be too many people getting in the way, and actually sabotaging each other so they can get the credit.
The reason why we can predict these situations is because we already live in a world similar to that. Many people today don’t do good deeds unless they think it benefits them. In fact, there are people who view Religion almost this way. They think simply giving donations and attending services will give them rewards. They fail to understand the core of these practices. They do the simple behaviors but with no heart. They stay as selfish and prideful fools, getting angry when things don’t go their way, and never understanding what it means to be truly good.
That’s a problem with the “only practical” mindset. When people do good only as much as they perceive it helps them, society will not change for the better. It will only change when the people evolve past that and start to do good deeds because they are good. This is why it’s important that people don’t always get rewarded for the little things. People need to know that doing good deeds is a self-sacrificing ordeal and that the reason why we should do them simply because it is good. Good people do good deeds out of love for their fellow man.